Monday, June 9, 2008

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Our garden is in a state of extreme neglect. We bought the house partly because it had this wonderful 10'X20' raised bed garden and we had visions of farming wonderful produce. Unfortunately we only had a few real successes. There was the year of 10 varieties of basil (and hence fantastic chicken kaprow) and the year of endless fresh cucumber salad. But mostly the critters ate our veggies. We grew some mighty nice pumpkins, but I don't believe we ever managed to harvest one. It has been neglected for about 4 years now, a situation that isn't likely to change with a toddler in the house. There are trees growing in there with trunks two inches or more in diameter.

But there are still two "crops" that keep coming back. The catnip and the mint. We have a huge bumper crop of both at the moment.

The problem with mint is that I have never been able to figure out what to do with the stuff. I have made the occasional cup of mint tea and used it as a garnish a few times, but generally it just stays there and goes to seed (hence the bumper crop). I love mint, but I consume most of it in the form of Altoids and flavored desserts (generally made from an extract).

When I found this recipe, I was excited to have something to use up some of these weeds. Mint chocolate chip ice cream is my second favorite (after vanilla, of course). I have very fond memories of the Mint Truffle sundaes that I used to get with my dad at the now sadly defunct Bakers on Lake City Way in Seattle, so I expect I will have to try this with some kind of dark chocolate mint truffle in place of the chocolate at some point.

I have modified the recipe, because steeping the leaves in the milk, but removing them before making the custard makes a lot more sense to me. It avoids having to temper the yolks and it makes stirring and watching the custard much easier. It is clear that this method would work for lots of different infusions, so I will have to do some experimenting this summer.

This stuff is seriously good.


Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups fresh mint leaves, clean, dry (salad spinner), and loosely packed (or more, put as much in as you can get submerged in the milk while helping with a spatula)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. In heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stir together milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and mint. Heat until steaming but not boiling, then remove from heat.

2. Allow the leaves to steep until cool enough to handle and not cook egg yolk. Remove the leaves, wringing them out well.

3. Whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar and add them to the saucepan.

4. Place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path), 5 to 6 minutes total (do not let boil or custard will curdle). Strain through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl. Whisk in heavy cream. Cover and chill until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

5. Process custard in ice cream maker, adding chopped chocolate during last minute of churning. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.


Queen of Swords said...

Oh, that DOES sound delicious beyond all reason! It reminds me of summer visits to my paternal grandmother's house. She had a mint infestation in her garden, too, and put the leaves to good use. She never did ice cream, though.

(If you have cats that you let out, you're sure to find them in a stupor in your garden from both the mint and the catnip!)

David said...

The cats do like the garden, but I think it is as much about the jungle-like nature of the place than the catnip, believe it or not. They don't seem too interested in the catnip until it is dried.